By: Anna Cox
Anybody who watched Nickelodeon from 2008 to 2015 knows about Dan Schneider. They know about how he created the shows most iconic to their childhood such as iCarly, Victorious, Drake and Josh, and many more. But, something that people are starting to learn about Dan Schneider is much darker than the light-hearted sitcoms from their childhood. In recent years, information has been coming out about how inappropriate and creepy Dan Schneider was around the young stars on his shows. So, now when people see the name “Dan Schneider,” they don’t think of their favorite shows from when they were younger; instead, they think of the rumors and allegations that they have seen online. The stories of child actors such as Drew Barrymore are known to most people, yet a new age of ex-child stars are hinting at how they were allegedly preyed on.
In 2018, Schneider’s time at Nickelodeon had come to an abrupt end following allegations of verbal abuse and poor treatment of the young actors on his shows. This seemingly sudden end had people starting to talk about and look into themes of the past shows and behind the scenes footage, and they started to notice a pattern of inappropriate behavior on Dan’s part. Before this news broke, Dan wasn’t a well-known name in households. But Hollywood knew him as an incredibly powerful producer with the definite ability to make successful shows, shows primarily made up of underage actors. The first show on Nickelodeon that he is known to have worked on was All That. On the show, he met Amanda Bynes, who then went on to be the star of his first Nickelodeon production “The Amanda Show.” This sparked a common theme throughout his shows, in which he would take actors from one successful show and give them their own feature. For example, Drake Bell and Josh Peck went from The Amanda Show to Drake and Josh. Then Miranda Cosgrove went from Drake and Josh to iCarly. And finally, Jennette McCurdy went from iCarly to Sam and Cat. People believe that he did this because of the close relationships and unbalanced power dynamics that he had formed with these actors, making it easier to manipulate their careers for his benefit.
Something that is important to remember about these shows is that the actors were almost always children, usually teenagers. Dan would scout them and have them work for the network for years, having them put themselves in situations that had parents raising eyebrows. One common scenario would almost always include feet, with the children showing them on camera in weird and unnecessary conditions. At one point, the official “Sam and Cat” twitter posted, “SAM & CAT TOMORROW! Write on the bottom of ur foot, take a pic and use #SAMandCATSaturday we’ll RT and follow until our fingers get sore!” So, obviously he is creepy and weird, but the children on these shows would do anything to keep working in Hollywood and the kids who watched the shows would do anything to get noticed by the actors.
After the allegations in 2018, people started to compile clips of Dan behind the scenes with the young actors. One of these includes a video of Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies (actors of the show Victorious) messing around on set and getting visibly uncomfortable once Dan’s presence is noticed. Ariana Grande even at one point starts to pull her hair over her chest and tug her skirt down past her knees. She would have been around 19 years old when this video was taken, and Dan would’ve been around 46. Anonymous sources of those who worked behind the scenes also noted that his “closeness” with the casts always walked on a fine line between normal and unnecessary. The most recent allegations came out in August of 2022. These allegations include writers, crew members, and actors who found some scenes in the show to be sexualized and disturbing. But, due to the uncomfortable nature of the topic and possibly a fear that this man still held their careers in his hands, none of the actors had directly come out and said anything against Dan until that same month in 2022.
In August of 2022, Jennette McCurdy published a game-changing memoir. She was on Nickelodeon from the ages of 15 to 22. Her book titled I’m Glad My Mom Died discussed her life as a child actor, familial abuse, and the dark sides of the acting industry. One part of the book that stood out to people was Jennette’s mention of a man she called “the Creator”. Many speculate that this was Dan Schnieder as he created both of the Nickelodeon shows she was a part of. She described a powerful man with two sides to his personality. She wrote, “He can make anyone feel like the most important person in the world…The other side is mean-spirited, controlling, and terrifying. The Creator can tear you down and humiliate you.” Later on in the book, she details a time when the Creator pressured her to drink when she was 18 years old, saying that the Victorious kids drink together all the time. But, due to Jennette McCurdy never confirming that the Creator was Dan Schneider, all of this is alleged. Something she does in fact say about the creator and the network is that they offered her $300,000 in “hush money”in order to not bring controversy to Nickelodeon. So, whether “the Creator” was Dan Schneider or not, she makes it very clear that the people at Nickelodeon knew of the abusive practices that were going on.
While it is never easy for people to acknowledge that sinister things were happening behind the scenes of the shows and movies that they grew up watching, and while all of these accusations against Dan Schnieder are alleged , it is important to acknowledge these uncomfortable topics in order to try and prevent as much abuse as possible in the future.